For those of us who’ve been part of the Midlands underground rock scene over the past decade or so, the names Mark Buckler and Ben Bartlett should ring a few bells. They were the six-string powerhouse at the heart of Brummie groove-rock merchants Rattlesnake Remedy and have separately been busy around the fringes since that outfit re-branded and then splintered back in 2009 – you can’t sink a good partnership though, so they’ve reunited and recruited the Jester rhythm section of Jordan Sims and Tommy Gaskin to put together Chemical Mojo, a unit taking a far heavier, grungier approach to things.
There’s no denying a massive Alice In Chains influence on the Chemical Mojo sound – the dirty, grooving guitar lines; the almost-constant close-harmony vocals; the seemingly-throwaway but deceptively well-crafted solos – and at times it’s almost too close for comfort, but CM take full advantage of the second axeman in their ranks to add some nicely-done guitar interplay and thicken up the riffage to levels that Jerry Cantrell could never manage alone (both perfectly illustrated within the first minute of Open Up The Sky).
It’s by no means a ground-breaking release, but that’s not the point; this is low-down-dirty metal-edged rock done just as well as any stadium-straddling US outfit, and the pristine production brings out the nuances nicely. Just The Tip does exactly what a debut EP should do – lulls you in with something familiar, then kicks you in the chest, stamps on your balls and leaves after twenty minutes leaving you breathless and wanting more. To get it you’ll need to catch them live – the EP launch on 9 July at Birmingham’s Flapper would be a good place to start.
8.5 out of 10
Review by Ian Savage at themidlandsrocks.com